How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Tom Karemacher, Procore Technologies .
Current gig: Vice President, APAC at Procore Technologies.
Current Location: Sydney, Australia
Current mobile device: iPhone X
Current computer: MacBook Pro
One word that best describes how you work: Driven
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
There are so many apps that help me get by day-to-day, both in business and personal life, whether I’m at home or travelling across the globe. I rely on Slack and WhatsApp to communicate and collaborate in real time, wherever I am, while Salesforce and Looker give me a clear view of business performance and operations. For balance in my week, I use Coastalwatch to find out the right day to hit the surf before work and World Surf League allows me to watch the best surfers in the world perform on the best waves in the world.
What social network do you find the most useful?
Definitely Twitter – it allows me to rapidly consume both local and global news on the run.
What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?
Never take your eye off culture. I’ve observed that leaders who focus heavily on culture delivered a clear improvement in performance, in comparison to those that don’t. This is something I became aware of in my previous role, and that has been crystallised since taking the helm of Procore in Australia 18 months ago.
At Procore, culture comes first, filtering through from the top down. I take the core values established by CEO Tooey Courtemanche and President Steve Zahm and ensure they are understood and reflected throughout the Australian business. It’s important to continually emphasise and reward employees who embody the core values of the business, because it creates an exciting energy and respect for the job that results in growth and a great reputation.
When recruiting, I’ve learned to hire for culture first, track record second. An impressive track record that is not supported by an alignment in values can damage the business.
What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?
Learning to inspire and not impress. Through my education and the early part of my career, it was about building a personal brand, impressing, over-delivering, getting recognition and progressing. I once thought that being a leader meant owning it all, but when I became a leader, I realised it was more about building and supporting those around me.
As a leader, to ensure everyone is empowered and inspired to deliver their best work, you can’t own it all. You must offer development opportunities to your whole team, give them the chance to take on new opportunities and impress. As a domain expert, it’s always tempting to take control, but it’s important to step back and create opportunities for others to come up with better ideas.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Communication. In personal and professional life, I think I’m pretty good at making sure everyone’s on the same page. It’s important to me, when I receive any new information, to think, who needs to know about this and why? Productive, impactful work is usually reliant on communication – to ensure everyone is focusing on the right things.
I like to think my wife would agree I’m a good communicator! We’re pretty good at working through anything and avoiding unnecessary disagreements.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I meditate for about 10 minutes before bed, to encourage a deep sleep and shut my brain off, remove the noise. I try to get 8 hours of sleep each night, and get up at around 5:30am for a workout or a surf before work.
What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?
- Take the time to truly define your core business values.
- Make sure that every employee across the business understands the “why” behind those values.
- Hire for culture first, track record second.
- Set clear expectations to drive accountability.
- Have fun – don’t take yourself too seriously, no matter how much pressure the business is under.